This is part two of my review of Beth Moore’s 2015 Living Proof Live Simulcast. Please see part one here. Part one contains a general overview of the simulcast and my response to the teaching that we should make Jesus the supreme romance of our lives. You may also wish to see the companion post Romance with Jesus: The Bigger Picture and Beth Moore Highlights and Part Two Preview for things not covered below.
This post wraps up a six post series connected with the simulcast. It received a lot of my time, but I pray it was time well spent. Not only might these posts serve in helping others evaluate Mrs. Moore’s teachings, I hope they also serve as an example of the kind of work that is necessary when we sit under a Bible teacher. That, as always, is my bigger goal. I do not want to simply report what I have found. I also wish to encourage the prayerful, careful, and biblical assessment of Bible teachers in general. Relying on God’s help, we can discern truth from error. The more we do this kind of work, the easier it gets. Doing it is not unloving. It is wise and biblical. (Acts 17:10-11, 1 John 4:1) The goal is not to cast personal judgment against a person or group, but to test their teachings. It can be done with grace out of love for the truth. I encourage you to keep reading the Bible, and keep testing every one you sit under. Any Bible teacher that is truly seeking God’s truth and glory should not mind that kind of evaluation.
Favorable and Unfavorable Observations
During the simulcast I saw things that were good and not so good. I’ll begin by mentioning some good things and then move on from there. Unfortunately, the good wasn’t all good, as you will see. As to the unfavorable items, there are a number of troubling things I had to leave out due to length concerns. I tried to pick the things from my notes that would be the most helpful for evaluation.
Mrs. Moore promoted staying with the Bible even if others decide not to. She taught that we will come to a time when out of the growing unpopularity of Christianity (she said it is already happening to some degree), Christians who used to walk together in the authority of the scriptures will come to a “Y” in the road. Some will say that in order to love they will need to distance themselves from the truth i.e. the Bible. She taught that since scripture is the “hot button”, some Christians will say, “I’m just gonna love with the love of Jesus.” This will be due to their sentiment for the world. These will start distancing themselves from the Bible while the others will continue to go with the Bible. She outlined the bad consequences of moving away from the word and said, “You hang onto your Bible with all your might.” She taught we should both love and stand in truth. It is good that Mrs. More encouraged her listeners to not forsake the Bible; however, I would have liked to have heard a case for the position that holding onto the Bible is the most loving thing we can do for the world.
Later in the simulcast Mrs. Moore promoted prayer. While there were some things in this section that were questionable, the general exhortation to pray was good.
Mrs. Moore encouraged young teachers and communicators to study the Bible. She said that the ones coming up nowadays don’t study as hard as she and others did in the past while getting Sunday school lessons ready. She told them to study and learn how to use Bible resources like commentaries and concordances. This encouragement was good. I was happy to see her promoting studying the Bible. It is an important pursuit. I wished, however, that the exhortation went out to ALL women, not just young up and coming teachers and communicators. (“Communicators” must be a buzz word that I am unfamiliar with. I use it here because Mrs. Moore did.) All women can learn to use Bible study resources and would be greatly blessed by doing so. I have encouraged that in the past and continue to do that on my website. From the top of every page of my site you can visit Study Resources for a good list of tools for digging into the Bible. It is a lifetime activity that only brings more and more grace. The more we do it, the more we can grow in the knowledge of God, grow in faith, grow in sanctification, and spot false teachings.
Mrs. Moore encouraged attendees to get involved with a local church if they weren’t already for protection against the evil one. I was happy to see her promoting connecting with a church; however, there was no caution about finding a biblically sound church.That’s important! Sitting under good, biblical preaching and gathering together with truly regenerated believers offers protection, not just being at a church.
Mrs. Moore taught to put 100% confidence in God and zero in the flesh.
Not So Favorable Items
Romance With Jesus
The main issue that I had with the simulcast was the teaching that we should enter into a supreme romance with Jesus. Again, please see part one for my review.
Benefits of Romance with Jesus
One thing I didn’t address in my review about this teaching was the benefits that you can receive by having a romance with Jesus according to Mrs. Moore. I will list them here.
Promoting romance with Jesus (a relationship based on our own ideas, longings, and imaginations) as the catalyst for these things is astonishing and appears to demonstrate a disconnect from real Christian experience. This teaching also appears to communicate a low view of the power of the Holy Spirit and the word of God. It appears they are not enough. We must create or add something more. Do Christians really need to have a romance with Jesus to not get bored or be convicted or find reading the Bible a delight? A truly regenerated heart living a life nourished by the word of God and walking by the Spirit does not need to fabricate a fantasy of romance with Jesus to stay interested in Him or better live for Him. Perhaps the problem lies in the possibility that unregenerated people with spiritual notions get bored for they truly do not know the Lord, or regenerated people do not spend enough time getting to know Him through the Bible. Maybe it’s something else. I don’t know. But I do know that Jesus, without romance, just as He is in the Bible, together with all a Christian can come to know about God through His word and through the Holy Spirit are more than enough to carry us to our last day. I would’ve loved to have seen that preached instead of romance.
Bible Interpretation/Application Errors
Like last year’s simulcast, Mrs. Moore mishandled the scriptures again. It happens in her books (some reviews) and other material as well. Some of the errors that have been noted are eisegesis, proof texting, and the allegorizing of the scriptures. This is very troubling to me. It is no small thing to mishandle the word of God on a regular basis. Bible teachers have a huge responsibility to be accurate.Thankfully, for the regenerated person who is seeking the truth and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it’s very doable. Yes, there are those passages that are hard to interpret, but good Bible teachers should be able to do well in most cases simply by staying in context and taking certain things into consideration like who is writing to whom, when they are writing, and why. Admittedly, different interpretations lead to different camps on some issues, but that’s not what I’m addressing. And sometimes people simply make mistakes in interpretation or application that they’re willing to correct. I understand that. What I am concerned with is whether or not a Bible teacher repeatedly makes errors like those that might be covered in Bible Interpretation 101. They’re not too hard to avoid, starting with keeping things in context. When a teacher rips a word out of context and applies it in a completely different way, that is reckless and damaging to the truth of God. Please insist on consistent accuracy from your teachers. I can’t press that hard enough. My dear sisters, please understand when someone does not handle the word of God correctly on a regular basis, they are not trustworthy. It should matter greatly. Yes, this upsets me, and I saw it again at the simulcast. Here are three examples of Bible interpretation or application errors.
1. Mrs. Moore spent a considerable amount of time on the concept of “fear “, working from Romans 8:15. The meaning that she gave “fear” did not fit the context. Here is the verse.
“For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15)
Romans 8:15 was called the “core verse” for the day. Her teaching about fear and this verse were even tied to the theme song of the simulcast “No Longer Slaves”. The fear of Romans 8:15 was interpreted as our own general fears and the fear that will occur during the end times. First she spoke about our personal, general fears. She said, “We have come today to repent of our small thoughts of our birthrights and to stand up fully in our rights as sons and daughters (our adoption) of Abba Father and with that will come our freedom from our slavery to fear.” (parenthesis mine) She also said, “Has anybody but me noticed that somehow there just is no end to the opportunity to fear? No end. And this is what we’re trying to do. We are trying to go for the catalyst. We’re trying to quiet down the catalyst instead of dealing with our own fears.” She taught that we could succeed if we stood in our full rights as sons and daughters.
She moved on from talking about our own fears to the fear that people will have during the end times. She said things are going to be really bad and fear is going to go viral. But she said, “We have a different virus to catch and it is the Jesus virus. And we’re going to have audacity. You and I are going to catch the virus of the Holy Spirit of the Living God and it’s going to give us some audacity in a time of viral fear.” She taught that if we were timid in this time, we would be despising our birthright, a reference to our adoption of Romans 8:15.
Mrs. Moore’s teaching about fear completely missed the meaning of Romans 8:15. Basically she taught that we are “released” from slavery to fear in our lives by knowing we are daughters of God. Sadly, that is not what Romans 8:15 is referring to. It’s actually something far deeper and has vital spiritual significance. Reading the verse in context reveals that the fear in question is the very real and appropriate fear connected with the conviction of sin. It is not referring to personal, general fears or fear in the end times. While this is clear from the context, I also checked ten commentaries for confirmation. Yes, ten. No big deal really. There are lots of commentaries online and I have some myself. None applied the word fear in the way that Mrs. Moore did, not even close. It was all about the law and fear connected with sin and judgment.
It was a great loss to have this verse mishandled. It’s a great loss to have any verse mishandled. Romans 8:15 and the surrounding context are so important in Christianity. In there we see the significance of the difference between those under the law and those who know no condemnation in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1-2) Christians, those who live without the fear connected with the condemnation of the law and sin and death, those who are adopted, are able to call out to God knowing Him as Abba Father! That is a glorious distinction and a many faceted truth that could have been preached for the entirety of the simulcast.
2. Mrs. Moore applied two verses relating to “the last days” to her own life in a way that runs contrary to sound Bible application. She taught from Acts 2:17 and 2 Timothy 3:1 and pointed out how they both mention “in the last days”. She said that they pictured two things going on “at the same time“, some of it good, some bad. Since Acts 2: 17 mentions good things, it was referred to as “the best of times”. 2 Timothy 3:1 was referred to as “the worst of times” for the bad things it introduces. Other contrasting expressions for these concurrent times were the “the peril and the outpouring” and the “holy and the harrowing”. I am not bringing this up to analyze viewpoints of eschatology. I’m bringing it up because of the application of these verses.
While the actual biblical ideas were mentioned surrounding these verses, these “times” were applied directly to Mrs Moore’s life in ways I can’t begin to reconcile with the scriptures. I’ll give you two examples. (You might wish to take a minute first and read the verses in context before you continue. A short summary would be that Acts 2:17 speaks of an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, prophecies, visions, and dreams. Those are good things. The verses following 2 Timothy 3:1 speak of difficult times because men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, and a lot of other bad things.) I find it incredible that Mrs. Moore identified the following moments in her own life as examples of these times.
- Mrs Moore told us a story about a trip she took to a cabin near the beach where she could be alone to get some work done. During the week, good and bad things were happening. She referred back to her teaching about the verses above when saying “Well every day, it was such a juxtaposition of what we were talking about a moment ago where two things are happening all at once.” What were the good and bad things? Well on the good side, she said “The Lord Jesus was just romancing me, just romancing me.” She did not give any details about what that meant. On the bad side she said, “But the enemy was just relentless.” What was he doing? Well, everything was going wrong. The air conditioner, the wifi, and the printer ink went out. She said it was “just torment.”
- The second example is actually about something that happened at the simulcast location. The expression “the holy and the harrowing”, which was used earlier in describing the times of Acts 2:17 and 2 Timothy 3:1, was used to introduce a story about plumbing problems. She said, “We live on this earth where it’s like this whole mix of the holy and the harrowing. We talked about that earlier. It was so interesting because in our own room (backstage), where we just said ‘holy prayer’ going ‘holy prayer’ going. Well, the toilet stopped up. And so it was just like, yup, uhhuh. This is how it goes exactly. Because here we are calling the Holy Spirit down and the toilet is stopped up because that’s how it’s gonna be here.” (parentheses mine)
Do the “good” things mentioned above and the technical or mechanical difficulties really qualify as “in the last days” events? It was troubling to see the two verses above be connected with these moments in Mrs. Moore’s life. When a Bible teacher loosely applies scripture like this, it’s no small thing. It appears to indicate a disregard for serious Bible interpretation.
3. In conjunction with her teaching about romance with Jesus, Mrs. Moore focused in on Revelation 2:4. I’ve already covered how she attempted to see romance in “first love” in part one of my review, so I will not cover that again here. There is more I would like to say about her teaching on this verse, however. While teaching from Revelation 2:4, she pointed out that the Greek word aphiemi appears where we see “left”.
“But I have this against you, that you have left [aphiemi] your first love.”
Earlier she had said aphiemi means “to send from yourself” when teaching from Luke 23:34 about forgiveness. She mentioned that aphiemi is often used in the New Testament for “forgive” and gave Matthew 6:14 as an example. Since aphiemi is translated as “forgive” in some places and aphiemi appears in Revelation 2:4, she connected forgiveness with whether or not we have our first love. She saw the “same word” and concluded forgiveness must have something to do with it. She then inverted forgiveness and interjected unforgiveness into Revelation 2:4 and taught that unforgiveness is THE reason why we do not have (left) our first love. She said you either have unforgiveness or your first love. You can’t have both since they occupy the same place. (She made a large circular motion with her hands in front of her torso.) We were later led through a ritual to let go of unforgiveness and enter into a romance with Jesus. (I’ve given more details about that ritual here, so I will not be addressing it again now.)
There are a few problems with interjecting unforgiveness into Revelation 2:4. First, aphiemi is translated “forgive”; however, she interjected “unforgiveness”. That is the complete opposite! Secondly, aphiemi is more often translated with words relating to “left” than “forgive”. Here is the NASB Concordance count:
aphiēmi; from G575 and ἵημι hiēmi (to send); to send away, leave alone, permit
forgave (2), forgive (23), forgiven (23), forgives (1), = 49
abandoned (1), leave (7), leaves (2), leaving (8), left (38), let (9), = 65
So teaching that forgiveness is important to whether or not we have our first love and interjecting unforgiveness into Revelation 2:4 simply because aphiemi is there and is translated “forgive” in other places, does not square with the numbers. While that’s informative, context matters more. The word aphiemi was translated “left” for a reason. The context is about leaving not forgiveness! Jesus is talking about the fact that the church in Ephesus had “left” their first love not that they had “forgiven” their first love. Bringing in “forgiveness” there doesn’t make sense because Jesus would not have that against them! Neither forgiveness nor unforgiveness are in the picture.
Finally, besides the other issues I have with it, Mrs. Moore’s teaching that you either have unforgiveness or your first love is a false dichotomy. Just because the word aphiemi appears in Revelation 2:4, that does not HAVE to mean unforgiveness is the problem. (I’m just playing along with the idea to work through the logic.) There could be lots of reasons.The verse and its context does not even tell us why the church in Ephesus had left their first love. Presenting unforgiveness as THE reason for us today is simply made up.That is not sound Bible teaching.
Heavy Emphasis on Audacity
The theme of the simulcast was connected with Mrs. Moore’s new book Audacious. There was a big emphasis on having audacity. My best summary of Mrs. Moore’s meaning for audacity was that we are to have determined boldness. We were taught to have:
These were called “six mighty makers”. (Please see part one of my review for a description of what a mighty maker is. Very quickly, according to Mrs. Moore, they will help us get on a list in heaven of the men and women who fought the good fight. No verse was given to support this.)
Besides the major issue of number one and some things that were said during the teaching portions of some of the others, I found the emphasis on audacity to accomplish these things troubling. Or more accurately, it was what the emphasis was not on namely God’s word and His work in our lives. My issue isn’t that we shouldn’t be bold, but leaning heavily on our own boldness seemed to diminish the help that God provides, the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and our responsibility to respond to God’s word.
Bible Version Switch
Mrs. Moore taught from the ESV. However, she did switch to another version at one point. When she read the core verse Romans 8:15 she switched to the NET after reading it from the ESV. She did so to present the verse without the word “sons” in the phrase “adoption as sons”. The NET reads, “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery leading again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry, “Abba, Father.” (NET) This was her explanation for changing to the NET. “I’m going to read it to you in the NET because it won’t be as gender related where you’re hearing the word sons because I want you to understand this is talking to you too, this is talking to you too.”
I found this switch to be troubling. Before I get to why, let me state that my issue with this is not that “sons” should be there. I am not a Greek scholar, but it does appear that there is only one Greek word (uihothesia) in the verse for the phrase “adoption as sons”, and it can simply mean adoption. That is how it is translated in the KJV. I also know that according to the NET’s preface, they did not have an ideological intent to be gender neutral in their translating work. So what’s my issue? I think it’s insulting to suggest that women aren’t able to figure out that Romans 8:15 refers to them even though it says “sons”. Does Mrs. Moore really believe we need that kind of help? If so, I have a higher view of the intelligence of women. Part of me wonders if that’s really what’s going on, or if there is a bias towards a more gender neutral presentation of the Bible for the sake of feelings or political correctness. Both possibilities would be disappointing.
Merchandising and Salesmanship
It appears there may have been some merchandising issues with Mrs. Moore’s new book Audacious (the one connected with the theme of the simulcast). One of the first things she said about her book was, “Now here’s what I want to say to you because listen, I’ve been you. I do not like to be manipulated. So if you’re feeling manipulated into a book, please don’t get it. Please don’t get it.” This left me with the impression that perhaps some had complained to LifeWay or Living Proof Ministries about the way the book had been merchandized. Initially, before the book was released to the public, purchasing the book was connected to viewing the simulcast. You could order it, if you were hosting. Why would you want this book? The promotional material for the book made it very attractive claiming it included amongst other things, the path to the life you are born to live! Paying to participate in the simulcast allowed you to pay early for the book and find out what was in it. If you didn’t participate, you had to wait till November.
Right after pleading with us not to get her new book if we felt manipulated, Mrs Moore went on to tell us why she wrote it and how incredibly powerful the message in it is. She said she believes in the “power of print” and that having things in print helps us to remember things better. She said she has always had something waiting for the participants of the simulcast afterwards on her blog. Well, this time it came in the form of a book. She then passionately said this about writing the book, “It was like a [sic] cymbals in my heart. I could not, I could barely, I could barely, I could barely stand the heat that was in my chest writing it from beginning to end.” That’s intense! After hearing that, who wouldn’t want to get (buy) the book and find out what’s in it?
After telling us about the cymbals and heat she said, “And if some of you are going like, ‘I think you are manipulating us’. Don’t get it. I ask you don’t get it. Please don’t get it. Cause it’s not going to be a blessing. It’s not going to be a blessing. (long pause) But if you don’t. (pause) Or even if you don’t. Or you do, you start praying today that God will crack open your heart to a romance with Him.” She said we do not need a book to do that, and that we should do it with everything we’ve got.
Saying don’t get it if you feel manipulated and then telling us how powerful the message is and then again telling us not to get it if we feel manipulated because it wouldn’t be a blessing feels, well, like manipulation. Or maybe it’s pretty slick salesmanship. Neither is appropriate for a Bible teacher.
Big venue, multi-location events like a simulcast allow a message to reach many people; however, they may have the unfortunate consequence of creating celebrities. There are parallels to pop culture events like sitting in the dark waiting for the “star” to come back on stage. Big events have the potential to foster hero worship since the audience is huge and there is unavoidable focus on the speaker, focus that renders the speaker as extra special and important. I wonder if Bible teachers would be better off avoiding putting on this kind of production.
Even though I was aware of problems with Mrs. Moore’s ministry before I sat down to watch the simulcast, it did not surprise me that there were some favorable things taught. I knew she also teaches some good things. But taking everything together, I cannot recommend her as a Bible teacher. She may help some in some ways, but that is not the test. I also cannot support the idea of taking the good and ignoring the rest. “The rest” is too much and too serious a problem.
Thank you for reading this review. I pray it serves well in the process of evaluating the ministry of Beth Moore. If you haven’t already, I welcome you to subscribe to my blog to receive notification by e-mail of future posts or follow Chapter 3 Ministries on Facebook.